2043 Montreal Road,
Ottawa 2. Ontario.
28th June, 1961- 10th July
It was two weeks ago today that I posted my last letter to you in Montreal when I was with Mary Egan, and it seems more like two months ago! Cec has been home for more than a week and we are beginning to feel that he was never away, although my goodness, we were glad to see him!
I might as well begin right away and tell you of our doings and then I can answer your letters and say thank you properly. I think I told you of Flora W. coming to tea one day with the baby, and then the next day Mrs. Bowen invited me to tea- this was really because of “My Position” and she also invited Marjorie as Past President and Gertrude Pierce who is President of the Altar Guild, but it was very nice anyway. Marjorie’s Mother was there too and Mr. Bowen and we all had quite a chatty time. The next day (Fri. 9th) I took Ruth Lockwood to Almonte to the Woollen Mills Shop. Of course when I suggested it to her before Cec ever left I had great plans to buy all sorts of things, but after my great dress spree I had no money, and Ruth wasn’t much better, so we really went for fun! Ruth actually took a piece of material and matched it, so we didn’t completely waste their time, but actually I was very glad to see what they had and how the prices compared so that in the Fall I can plan what to get if I want to go again. They have very nice sweaters of all shades as well as woolen material, and also blankets. The latter of a mixture of rayon and viscose and something else, as well as the pure wool ones, and I was thinking that for Charlie it might be better as he finds the wool too hot. We had a picnic lunch on the way back, and although it wasn’t warm enough to make us want to get out and recline on the grassy sward, it was very pleasant sitting in the car with the windows open!
During the week I had a phone call from Lila who is back in Ottawa for two months, so I invited her to come to dinner on the Sunday. It turned out to be a nice hot day – one of the few we’ve had – so we had it out in the garden and I cooked meatballs and chicken livers in bacon on the little grill. They got a bit burned, but Lila is a polite girl and said she liked the charcoal flavour! Myrtle annoyed me immensely by peering at us, and talking and as she had laryngitis we’d all have to stop and listen and say ‘Pardon’ and in the end never know what she was talking about. By the time Cec got home I could hardly be civil to her. She was in and out and on the phone every day and she’d be saying “What are you doing now?” and “Where are you going today?” until I felt I had an inquisitor on my heels. The day I went to Montreal she phoned me after 10 at night and demanded very indignantly “Where were you all day?” As you can imagine this did not go down very well with me!
Next day- Monday- was the day Charlie S.[Stainthorpe] was to be in Ottawa. So after the children set off to school I dashed around and made beds etc. and then about 8:40 a.m. I phoned the Château Laurier and asked for him but they said he hadn’t come yet, so I left a message with my phone number and about half an hour later he called me. He had just arrived after a night in the train from Toronto and hadn’t had breakfast yet, so I suggested that I would come for him at 11 o’clock, and if he felt like it he could stroll up and look at the outside of the Parliament buildings as I knew I would never find a place to park there. I’d given the children their lunches, so I got organized and set off in my new blue patterned dress and black hat that Mary and I made and we duly met at the right time and place. Charlie is just the same – a little more paunchy, but full of pep and enthusiasm and having a wonderful time. We went to the car at once as he had been up to Parliament Hill, and I set out to show him Ottawa. I can’t say it was much of a success as a guided tour, as he was having so much fun telling me about Ruth and the boys, and all the things he done on his trip and the things he’d seen that I didn’t have the heart to keep interrupting him and saying this is this and that is that!
However, we went around the Driveways and Dow’s Lake so he must have had a favourable impression. Unfortunately the tulips had just completely finished and not much else was in bloom and the same applied to our garden, but everything was beautifully green and springy looking. We got to the Champlain Island in the Ottawa River just around 12, and I showed him the rapids, and the log booms higher up, which interested him very much, and then I suggested that we have just a light lunch in the restaurant there, and he thought this was a good idea. We had toasted Western sandwiches and coffee, and he’d not had such a sandwich before and he thought it was a beautiful restaurant so it was nice to please him. Afterwards, I took him over the bridge and down through Hull and he saw the view from that side of the river, and then we went down Sussex Drive, past N.R.C. and the Prime Minister’s and Governor General’s etc. and through Rockcliffe Park. On the way home we passed Steinberg’s and Loblaw’s and I told him I shop there, and then I suddenly thought he might like to see one, so back we went and I took him through Steinberg’s much to his amazement and interest! He bought some cherries to have on the train next day and then saw some corn and asked if that was what it was, as their Courier had said they hadn’t lived until they had eaten corn on the cob, so of course I got some, although it was not in season, so it wasn’t very good, but at least he’d have some idea of what it is like.
We got home around 2:30 I think, and we sat chatting for a little, and I noticed that he was looking a bit droopy eyed, so I suggested that he should lie down and have a little nap, so I think he was very happy to do so. I was happy too, as I shut myself in the kitchen and managed to get the dinner well on the way. I had a chicken casserole with bacon and mushrooms, mashed potatoes, fresh asparagus and corn on the cob, and then afterwards a strawberry shortcake. I found it very hard work with both Lila and Charlie being both host and hostess and missed Cec so much – it is really hard to entertain and cook and serve dinner at the same time! The children came in from school while Charlie was still asleep, and we crept around for a little while, and then he stirred so we made tea and I introduced them. They were very tickled at some of Charlie’s English expressions and of course we got so muddled up with the Charlies that we had to say Big Charlie and Little Charlie! Big C. brought them both pretty little egg cups and spoons with the arms of London on, so they were very pleased and I was glad that I had the things to give him for Ruth’s boys. I was quite glad that he had grandsons because whenever the children suddenly got uproarious, or were particularly child like he would say “Just like Richard and Michael!” and look quite pleased!
He was tired after his night in the train, and they were off to Montreal early in the morning so we drove him back to the Château soon after 8 o’clock, and this suited me fine as I didn’t want to keep the children out too long. It really was nice seeing him again and he seems very contented with his life now. I suggested he try a trip to the West Indies, and he said that you had said so too, and he seemed quite interested so you might be seeing him next!
On the Tuesday Fanni had very kindly invited us all to a barbecue supper, so this was a lovely free day for me, without even dinner to prepare. Unfortunately it was as changeable as all this peculiar summer has been, and about 4 it clouded over and began to pour with rain, so we couldn’t sit outside doors after all. Teddy has built a lovely new fireplace outside and we were going to christen it but we had a nice time anyway. Talking of christenings the Bowen’s smallest girl, Patty, aged four had me very puzzled the other Sunday – she kept telling me that she was going to – – – – and that I should come to this – – – – and there would be nice things to eat! I couldn’t make out what the word was and asked her again and again and finally got it – a “bastism”!
Next day, Wednesday, I set out on my trip to Montreal. I gave the children their lunch and arranged for them to go to Mrs. Lockwood’s after school, and then dashed around and did a few chores before I set out at 9 o’clock. It was really a perfect day for driving, as it was sunny but quite cool, so I wore the navy and white checked outfit you helped me buy before you left, and my pink straw pillbox hat. I took just about the three hours to drive the 120 miles, and felt very proud of myself as I only got lost once in the city, and then I drove in onto a side street and found myself on the map! I found a parking lot very near the bus station and was there at 12:05 to find Mary just arriving. She looks practically exactly the same – no gray hairs and just about the same figure, but of course her complexion is 10 years older, like mine! We set off and found an Italian Restaurant nearby, and decided to take our time, and ordered a bottle or rather a half bottle of white wine and sat there sipping and talking and eating for two hours. We showed one another pictures of our children and told one another about our families, and caught up on our friends and their children and had a thoroughly good time! Mary had stayed one night with Olwen and Noel in Vancouver (3 children) and I was wrong – I thought Noel was a teacher but he is with an advertising firm. I was very amused because apparently they loathed Canada to begin with and a few years ago went back to England, and although they both worked there they couldn’t make enough money to live on! Not, I gather, in the style to which they would like to be accustomed! So they returned to Canada, but for Mary’s few remarks it sounds as if Owen is still quite affected.
Mary’s mother and Gerard were meeting her at Prestwick, and Gerard was lending her his car, so she hopes to get around and see everyone. She is then going home via Rome, and Gerard will go there with her, and then she goes on to Singapore and so home. She has left the 2 girls in a convent boarding school where Ann already goes, but the young one just for the term, and the three boys and Michael are looking after each other. She seems to have very much the same kind of life as I do I think, and seems very contented.
After our long lunch we went and looked at the shops a bit and I got some candy to take back to the children and Mrs. Lockwood, and then before long it was getting on for 4 o’clock. I wanted to leave before the evening traffic rush began, and Mary wanted to be back before too late as she was staying with a young English couple, so we had a cup of tea and said goodbye and I was home soon after 7. My activities still weren’t over though, as this was the evening of Mr. Bowen’s presentation, so I got tidied up a bit, and then went over to the Lockwood’s and took Mrs. L and Linda and Charlie down to the Church. There has been a great mix-up over the parish letter telling the people about the Bowens’ leaving and asking for subs. etc. – in fact it was never sent, and in the end the Wardens had to ask some of us in the Guild to phone everyone, so we were quite relieved to find there was quite a nice crowd there. The Guild served tea and coffee and cookies, and then the gifts were presented – very nice leather briefcase to Mr. Bowen and a set of dishes to Mrs. Bowen and a cheque ($100). The dishes were exactly the same as my blue Wedgewood, but yellow as Mrs. B wanted those, but I didn’t think they were as pretty as mine. We also gave a cheque to Mr. Trumbull the organist (Mrs. Rothwell’s lodger – remember?) as he wouldn’t accept a salary apparently. He is leaving Fairfield School so of course leaving Mrs. R and the Church too. I didn’t stay to the end of the social as I had the children, but it was quite pleasant and I think that the Bowens were pleased.
Next morning I blessed Mary Orr, as this was the day that she had talked me into going and helping her with this lunch. The Save the Children have a Dog Show every year apparently at Ashbury College and Mary and some of the other women provide and serve lunch for the dog show judges. It really wasn’t hard work, as I had to be there at 11, and about 4 of us set up card tables and then one long buffet table table with the food on it – all cold- in the gym. We served about 25 people and then had our own, but had no washing up or anything, and as they all trickled in a few at a time there was no rush. I left about 2, and went to the Coinwash and did my washing! Did I tell you that the washing machine had passed out? Cec says the motor has burned out and we don’t feel inclined to spend $50 or more for it, so we have decided to leave it until after the holidays, and then decide what we’ll do and in the meantime I take my washing down to the good old Coinwash.
The next excitement that week was the Sunday School Picnic, which was at the same place as last year – the big park at Hogs Back. It was a lovely day, and it was really very nice. It began at 10, and I took Joanne with L. and C. and they ran races all morning and then had lunch- hot dogs and pop and ice cream! Afterwards there was a Treasure Hunt and some silly races for adults. They had made me join in the throwing the raw egg business as they had last year and I gave a great heave up into the air and it nearly came down on a man’s head! It was all over around 2, so that gave us a nice time to get home and have a great bath and hair wash do for Daddy coming home! It was rather a pity that we had to miss this Sunday in Church as it was Children’s Sunday with all the presentation of Sunday school prizes etc. Not only that, but the Service was taken by the children too, and they had asked me if Linda would read one of the lessons. I had to explain that we wouldn’t be there, and I didn’t tell Lindy as I knew how disappointed she would be, but her Sunday School teacher told her and of course she was quite sad. They both got prizes, but someone else had to take them for them.
On the Sunday morning we were all set to leave at 10, as Cec’s plane was due in at 1:35, and I thought we’d get there in good time and have some lunch and watch the planes. However I decided to try and check before I left Ottawa, so I phoned BOAC, but after a lot of hoo-ha they told me if I called in 2 hours they would be able to tell me when the plane got in! This was ridiculous of course, as we’d be nearly in Montreal by then, so off we set anyway, and had quite a nice drive, though the children got a bit bored! We stopped by the side of the road and had picnic cookies and milk and coffee, and we got to the Airport just at 12:30. We parked the car, and went into the Terminal and to the BOAC Enquiries, and asked about the plane and the girl said calmly “Oh, that flight has been cancelled.” I was so infuriated, particularly as it turned out that they had known for hours, and must have known when I phoned in Ottawa. However, they said Cec would arrive at 4 o’clock, so we had lunch and resigned ourselves to a nice long wait. Fortunately there were a few drug stores etc. open in the concourse, so we bought Linda a book and Mummy a book, and Charlie 2 little matchbox cars, and amused ourselves as best we could! Watching the planes was very disappointing, as they arrive and take off behind another building, and although they have a lovely terrace and viewing deck, one can see nothing! Time passed and who should I see the George Lindsay, off to Halifax, so we chatted a little while – by the way, I don’t think I told you that they have been posted for 3 years to the Italian Riviera! For once, June has nothing bad to say about this move! Getting on for 4, we went and checked on the plane again, and this time they told us 4:30, and of course, we finally saw Cec at about 5! But it was worth waiting for him!!
We drove home, and on the way Charlie began to wilt, so I gave him a car sickness pill, and he dozed and slept most of the way. When we got home though he didn’t feel like eating any supper, so I took his temp. and it was 102, and the eczema behind his legs was a mess – all broken out in yellow pustules, and looking so sore and inflamed. So that was a sad ending to our day. However, we were all so happy to have Daddy home, and he brought Linda a lovely little Dutch doll with wooden shoes which take off, and for Charlie from England lots more tracks for his train, and a dear little Royal Mail Van. Also all sorts of souvenirs – a model of the Little Mermaid from Copenhagen – a carved wooden statue of William Tell from Switzerland, – a Delft tile from Holland,- some table mats with views of Cambridge. My big present was a seascape by Van Gogh from the Modern Art Gallery in Amsterdam, and of course we had the children’s pictures waiting to surprise him, so we are going to have some framing done! Cec and I have always wanted a sea picture and I like this one very much – I told Cec I had to laugh when he wrote and told me he had bought it as he carefully said he had bought this picture by Van Gogh and then added (reproduction)!
Poor old Charlie got to bed, and to sleep and Cec and I talked our heads off. He saw Charles Courtois in Belgium, Langseths and Boks in Copenhagen, Klemans in Stockholm and Fischers in Lucerne – all people who have been over here at the C.ouncil – and they were all so kind to him and gave him a wonderful time. In England he visited Miss Lefroy and Chris as I told you, and also Gunborg and the girls as well as 2 ex-Fellows of NRC, then he went up to Birmingham University and stayed there with a Prof. whom we had met here, and then onto Cambridge where he stayed as a guest of St. John’s College. In Cambridge he visited his friend Dick Chapman who was our best man, and also various scientists he knew, and then on the last evening he found he was free, so he phoned Anne Winnick. She was out, but he finally got her old mother to realize who it was and she told him that Anne was at the Arts Cinema, so he went there and nearly gave Anne apoplexy to find him waiting there for her to come out! He went home with her and her friend (the new Headmistress of Coleridge) and saw the children, and then to the friend’s house for supper. I just wish I’d seen Anne’s face of amazement!
Didn’t he cover a lot of ground and people though? And what do you think – he wasn’t home two weeks when he got an invitation to attend an International Symposium next year in JAPAN and give a paper! He is not at all keen, but it is a great honour and he is definitely among the Greats of the Physics world. Dr. Herzberg and 2 other famous scientists are to give long papers, and then about 20 scientists from all over the world give shorter ones – these including Sir Gordon and Dr. C. C. Costain! It isn’t until the Fall of next year, but he is disgusted because he has to write this month and say what his paper will be on and he doesn’t know what he will be doing all that time ahead! We only hope that this won’t put a spoke in our plans for 1963.
Poor little Charlie was still very poorly on the Monday so I kept him in bed and had Dr. Whillans. He had a very sore throat, and Dr. W. said it was a strep throat, and that he wondered that he could be so cheery as it looked so sore. His legs were a bit better, but he gave me some ointment for them and some penicillin pills for the throat, and really, they worked like a charm, and by Tues. he was feeling so much better. I was glad as I had a big Guild Coffee Party on the Wed. morning. I had invited the past executive committee and the new one and various people like Pat Tomlinson and Mrs. Martin – making about 20 altogether, so it was a relief that Charlie was feeling better. It turned out to be a pouring wet day, and everyone was saying “What a day to have a party”, but they all came just the same, and everyone seem to have a nice time.
Charlie was well enough to go back to school on the Friday, and work with him at home, and not having a car and staying quietly at home it was quite a nice change from my wild dashing about! A little goes a long way when all the other jobs are piling up just the same. Cec began working around the garden that weekend, and it really has been lovely, but the weather this summer has been so strange for Canada. We never seem to have had more than one or two fine days in a row, and we have had so much rain – heavy thunder showers, and sudden drenching downpours, and then sunny but cool – just ideal for the gardens, but not settled summer weather at all. Actually, Cec was saying the perennials have done wonderfully this year but the annuals are doing very poorly – however the tomato plants recovered and although they haven’t much in the way of fruit yet at least they are alive. The people who are on holiday now will be very disappointed as we have had a lot of rain and it hasn’t been swimming weather at all.
The next week was the children’s last week at school, and I took them to the dentist one day too. Both with small holes, and Linda is to go to a periodontalist (?) to see about her front teeth coming to a point. She is quite resigned the thought of wearing “bands” as most of her pals in school do anyway! They both did well in their reports, and now Linda is in Grade 6 and Charlie Grade 5 – big kids!
Cec has now started work on the driveway – first of all he is lifting all those big flag stones at the front door and putting fill underneath and levelling them out and now he is going to put new asphalt on the driveway itself. He then has to re-tar the roof – both such horrid messy jobs. I can’t remember if I told you that while Cec was away I finally booked us a cottage for the first two weeks in August. We had looked over the literature previously, and decided on one or two that looked nice, and I wrote and one of the places was booked up and the other had a cottage, so I booked there. It sounds good – on a lakefront, with a sandy beach, indoor plumbing, refrigerator, and electricity of course, inner spring mattresses and boats to hire, so I hope it turns out as good as it sounds. It is due west of here and is north of Toronto in a part of Ontario called the Haliburton Highlands, and it is supposed to be very beautiful country, so I hope we’ll have a good time. We leave here on 29th July and stay there for 2 weeks, then we plan to drive down to Stratford to see the matinee of “The Pirates of Penzance” and then go on to Merle for the weekend before coming home.
Last week was the first week of the children’s holidays, and I had booked them both for swimming lessons at the YWCA. Charlie’s lessons were from 10 to 10:30 and Lindy’s from 10:45 to 11:15 so they fit in very well. They were both quite excited about them and then of course on the Sunday poor Charlie’s eczema all broke out again, and he had a temp. once more. I called the Dr. on Mon. and he sent out some more penicillin pills, and I kept putting the ointment on them, and then suddenly he threw up his breakfast. However, he wasn’t sick again and by the evening I could give him a pill and he was feeling fine and hungry! Of course he couldn’t go to his swimming lesson though but, I took him along to watch Lindy’s and the teacher suggested he come and watch his own classes and that is what he did until Friday when he was O.K. and could go swimming himself. His legs cleared up and I came to the conclusion that it must have been a slight tummy flu because on Thursday and Friday I was quite off, and very achy and tired. They are both loving the lessons though and on the very second day Lindy took off and swam across the pool! I am not allowed to watch but she says she can swim on her back and that they are going to learn to dive and can hardly bear to come away from the lesson. The teacher is a young teenager, but the classes are nice and small – not more than 12 and Lindy’s has now dwindled to 4, so they get lots of attention. Of course I spend my whole morning in town spending money and drinking coffee and getting no work done!
The previous Sat. we had Chris Møller out to dinner as his time here is getting short, and then last week Boris and Joan had a Cocktail Party as a farewell for him. I hadn’t been feeling too good that day, but I was able to sit and drink a little reviver and felt better. On this Sat. I had a dinner party and had Teddy and Fanni and Alec and Phyl and a young Portuguese couple from the Council to a cold buffet. I had soup first – crab bisque – then I had cold Gaspé salmon, cucumber sauce and then a salad plate, and a Hawaiian chicken salad with hot French bread- oh yes, and I forgot- a plate of cold meats and stuffed eggs, then after, a strawberry cake. Everyone seem to enjoy it and afterwards we showed some of Cec’s pictures – he hasn’t got them all yet- and Teddy showed some of his, and then we went downstairs and played darts and did jigsaw puzzles! It was really fun though and I had a good time too! Yesterday I washed up!
Well, at last I have caught up with ourselves – I have been writing this letter for three weeks, but what with Charlie being sick, and swimming lessons and one thing and another the time has flown. I am so sorry that it has been so long, but I know you will forgive me. I still haven’t answered your nice letters but I think that I will have to leave that till my next or I will never get this away. As Guild Pres. I am now on the Church Advisory Board, and they have been putting me to work with regard to the rectory. We are getting it all painted inside for the new rector, and today I had to go and get the painters and show them the place and see about the paint and take down the curtains and send them to be cleaned. Tomorrow we begin swimming again – 4 more lessons this week – and so I will be off on the spree again!
Must stop – will write soon again and we all send much love to A. Muriel and lots of love and hugs to you,